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Nasim Almantaser, 21, is a Brooklyn College student who grew up working in his Yemeni-American family's bodega in Brighton Beach. He recalls his father, who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s, working 12-hour shifts to support their family. As a young boy he began helping out in the store to be with his father.
Nasim talks about the special relationship and sense of community that a bodega owner has with the people who patronize his store and shares his experiences during the pandemic. He describes historical events in Brooklyn that made an impression on him such as the Yemeni American Merchants Association's Bodega Strike in 2017, which was a response to Trump's Muslim ban. "In fact, because these stores are open 24 hours, for many some of the locks broke. Some of them, it was their first time ever shutting down," he says. "And so when thousands came out, it was an emotional moment, not just for the Yemeni community, but for other communities who stood in solidarity to highlight that we have a place in this country."
As a history and education major, Nasim's career goal is to become a history teacher. He is currently a student teacher in the NYC public schools. He talks about how history classes at Brooklyn College engaged and inspired him, and were very different from the history he was taught in public school. "I'm the first American citizen in my family, which I take with a great sense of pride, but a huge sense of responsibility as well," says Nasim, who aspires to run for elective office and to one day be the president of the United States.